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The Air War Against ISIS

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The Air War Against ISIS

Old 7th Feb 2021, 06:57
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Ecce Homo! Loquitur...
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The Air War Against ISIS


The Air War Against the Islamic State

The Role of Airpower in Operation Inherent Resolve

Airpower played a pivotal role in the U.S.-led fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) from 2014 to 2019 and contributed to the success of Operation Inherent Resolve. This report sheds light on the impact of the air operations in Operation Inhereint Resolve and whether airpower could have been applied differently to achieve faster, more-sustainable outcomes. The authors incorporate interviews with U.S. and coalition personnel, primary-source documents, and U.S. and coalition strike and sortie data to document the operational history of the air war, assess the relationship between airpower effects, and analyze the strategic and operational impact of airpower in Operation Inherent Resolve.

The authors find that, although airpower played an essential role in combating ISIS, airpower alone would not have been likely to defeat the militant organization. Instead, the combination of airpower and ground forces—led by Iraqi and Syrian partners—was needed to destroy the Islamic State as a territorial entity. The overarching strategy of Operation Inherent Resolve, which put ground-force partners in the lead, created several challenges and innovations in the application of airpower, which have implications for future air wars. To be prepared to meet future demands against nonstate and near-peer adversaries, the U.S. Air Force and the joint force should apply lessons learned from Operation Inherent Resolve.

Key Findings
  • Airpower played a critical role in Operation Inherent Resolve, based on the "by, with, and through" strategy, which placed local partners as leaders of the fight to destroy the caliphate. In turn, partners' capabilities and interests shaped how airpower was used.
  • Although more-aggressive air operations might have slightly accelerated the defeat of ISIS, they are unlikely to have significantly altered the timeline.
  • The deep fight in Operation Inherent Resolve affected ISIS's finances, but it could not affect ISIS's main center of gravity—territory—meaning that strategic attack did not play a decisive role in this operation.
  • Critical enablers, such as remotely piloted aircraft and aerial refueling aircraft, were in high demand and provided vital capabilities but were at times overstretched.
  • Essential wartime skills, such as deliberate-targeting and defensive counterair operations, were used for the first time in years in a real operation, requiring reinvigoration of these proficiencies.
  • Battlespace management within the Operation Inherent Resolve coalition was a point of disagreement, particularly between the Combined Joint Task Force Commander and the Combined Air Forces Component Commander, and affected the development of the deep fight.
  • Necessary efforts to prevent civilian casualties and reduce collateral damage depleted precision-guided munition stockpiles.

PDF file: https://www.rand.org/content/dam/ran...D_RRA388-1.pdf

Last edited by ORAC; 7th Feb 2021 at 11:47.
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Old 7th Feb 2021, 08:24
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after all these years and all that money they're still around.................. thats the problem with a belief system - it is hard to attack with military forces
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Old 7th Feb 2021, 11:31
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Originally Posted by Asturias56 View Post
after all these years and all that money they're still around.................. thats the problem with a belief system - it is hard to attack with military forces
Talk about moving the goalposts! I don't remember anyone claiming that the campaign was intended to eliminate the ISIS belief system. It clearly had to be taken account of in strategy and was/is a target for information ops, but the primary objective of the military campaign was to get people and territory out from under ISIS control, which has been a success. In the same way, WW2 stopped the ideology of Nazism from being imposed but did not entirely eliminate it. No-one would use that as an argument for the limitations of military force.
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Old 7th Feb 2021, 17:04
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I don't disagree - air power was all that stood between the rest of the ME and a particularly nasty bunch of thugs. I remember attending a briefing buy a lot of people who were experts on those parts and they were ashen grey at how fast they were spreading and the horrors they brought in their wake.

But stamping them out finally is proving to be hard......
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Old 11th Oct 2021, 20:45
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It looks like their finances may be taking a hit.

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Old 11th Oct 2021, 21:39
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Forgive my ignorance but when / how did Defensive Counter Air Operations figure in The campaign against ISIS ? Or are they referring to the presence of Russian air in the same theatre?
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Old 12th Oct 2021, 07:53
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yeah - I wondered that as well................... page 257 explains:-

First, we look at DCA missions flown by U.S. and other coalition forces to counter Russian, Syrian, and Iranian airpower in Syria. DCA is defined as “direct (active and passive) defensive actions taken to destroy, nullify, or reduce the effectiveness of hostile air . . . threats against friendly forces and assets” and includes flying missions, such as CAP.1 For this category, we first analyze how the coalition met the emerging DCA requirement, which increased
greatly following the entrance of the Russian Air Force into Syria in October 2015, and how this requirement evolved during the operation. Although the coalition interactions with the Russian Air Force and the air-to-air incidents that occurred in Syria received a healthy amount of attention, the extent of the DCA mission in OIR tends to be an underappreciated aspect of the campaign."

ISIS did not possess an air capability beyond small UASs that it used for tactical reconnaissance and attacks.19 However, there was still a substantial DCA requirement for OIR, particularly after Russia intervened to support the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria’s civil war in September 2015. The arrival of advanced Russian combat aircraft and SAMs created a potential threat to coalition aircraft. Such capabilities enabled the Syrian Army and Air Force to successfully go on the offensive against their opponents, increasing the chances for deliberate or accidental encounters between Syrian regime forces and those of the anti-ISIS coalition.

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Old 12th Oct 2021, 10:05
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Perhaps this type of operation might be improved if it wasn't burdened by such a preposterous name.
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Old 13th Oct 2021, 16:49
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Originally Posted by skridlov View Post
Perhaps this type of operation might be improved if it wasn't burdened by such a preposterous name.
I donít think the name of an operation affects, at all, the operation.

The air operation against ISIS, in support of indigenous troops on the ground, was a success.
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Old 14th Oct 2021, 08:26
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USA lieks names that say what they're trying to do

the British pick them of a random list - originally this was for security so that if you knew the name it told you nothing - but these days with PR embedded at the highest levels it doesn't make a difference
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